Sightings for May 2011

May 31st

Storm Petrel 2-miles off Hengistbury last night - Kevin Lane
...and a Gannet over the boat - Alan Hayden

A hastily arranged 'pelagic' went out of Christchurch last night and was a partial success in terms of connecting with Storm Petrel, plus some other bits-and-pieces. For more images, please click here

After a late swing to the north-west yesterday, the wind remained in that vector and blue sky dominated throughout. For the date, there are still good numbers of small, migrant waders at Stanpit - 47 Sanderling, 22 Ringed Plover and 280 Dunlin being the peak counts - as well as 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Curlew and 7 Lapwing, which are presumably now not planning to go very far. This evening, the tide was too far out to improve the numbers, but a very young Peregrine was making a hash of trying to catch its supper. The finer weather saw broods of Whitethroat and Chiffchaff leaving the nest, a Lesser Whitethroat was carrying food on Wick, the Cuckoo carries on singing at Wick, 27 Swift passed north over there and a vocal Reed Warbler in the ditch was surely a new arrival.

May 30th

A constant drizzle made for poor visibility across the whole area this morning. Consequently, the only records involve singles of Storm Petrel and Fulmar at sea, along with 3 Kittiwake, 4 Guillemot, 3 Razorbill and just 5 Gannet. Meanwhile, at least 25 Sanderling were on the sandspit.

Additional news: the morning also saw a Great Northern Diver off Hengistbury, as well as a total of 5 Fulmar; while an evening boat trip to 3-miles out encountered single Storm Petrel on four occasions. The trip through the harbour saw 288 Dunlin, the reason for the exact figures being a dot-counted flight shot, as well as a few Ringed Plover, 2 Common Tern and the Tufted Duck.

May 29th

Storm Petrel were once more in the same area as yesterday, but eight were also seen moving slowly west past the Beach Huts. In the main spot, out from the Long Groyne, the most seen in one scan this morning was five, but that was bettered this afternoon with up to seven. However, given the frequency that individual birds were appearing out of the troughs, which at times was pretty much every telescope sweep, then there has to be far more out there. In fact, when a Hobby was watched actively, but unsuccessfully, hunting them for around 5-minutes during the morning, the number of vertical dives it was making suggested it had plenty of choice. Presumably, this was the same Hobby as was seen in the area yesterday, which was when the petrels were first noted, so it had innovated pretty quickly. Manx Shearwater were less obvious today, but the sun's glare was a little worse, with 11 birds being the minimum to lunchtime. Also out at sea, up to 50 Gannet, 14 settled Common Scoter, 2 Kittiwake, 7 Fulmar, 5 Razorbill, 3 Guillemot and 20+ auk sp., while 13 Sanderling, a Turnstone and the Whimbrel were sheltering around the end of the head.

May 28th

Gannet off the Gully - Alan Hayden

As the wind returned to the south-west, there was every likelihood of a decent seawatch, meaning the Gully was indeed covered from 8:30 to 12:30. In these conditions, on this date, Storm Petrel are very much a possibility, so around 20 sightings of at least 5 birds was no real surprise. However, given the frequency the birds were being picked out, there's every chance there were more than the perhaps conservative total estimate. The main point of focus was a group a lobster pots, marked by small orange buoys, several hundred meters SW from the tip of the Long Groyne. Also seen, all to west: 26 Manx Shearwater, mostly in groups of 4-6, a Little Gull, a Hobby, 10 Swift, an adult and first-summer Kittiwake, 7 Fulmar, 2 Common Tern, a Guillemot, a Razorbill, several unidentifiable auks and 7 Common Scoter, while six of these also went east and over 30 Gannet were 'fa-ing'. There were also quite a few waders knocking about the Long Groyne area, including 35 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel and 50 or so Dunlin. On the Long Field, a juvenile Mistle Thrush was on show and a couple of Rook passed over northbound. Records suggest it was the late 1970s that Lapwing last bred in Christchurch Harbour, but right now there are at least two locations giving a strong hint that may change. Fingers-crossed, there may be some good news in the coming weeks.

May 27th

The wind actually took a swing to the north-west today, when Stanpit held: 17 Sanderling, a Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit, 120 Dunlin and 2 Curlew; as well as a Little Tern fishing around Blackberry Point at lunchtime and 8 Shelduck ducklings in Stanpit Creek all day. On the other side of the harbour, a Peregrine went over, while trash wildfowl were represented by the lunatic drake Tufted Duck and 4 Canada Goose.

Omission: Cuckoo were singing on Wick and on the Batters.

May 26th

Carrion Crow with a degree of Hooded Crow mixed in - Steve Birt
A hybrid 'hoodie' has been around Hengistbury for a few years now
and this may one of its offspring

Firstly, sorry for yesterday's late posting, I forgot to press the Send button! The wind picked up somewhat again today and made things a little difficult. Nevertheless, after suggesting the wader passage may be behind us, there was another decent showing at Stanpit, where 30 Sanderling, 2 Ringed Plover and 120 Dunlin all seemed to be new, while a Bar-tailed Godwit and 2 Curlew linger on. Also, 4 Mediterranean Gull over the marsh and the 8 cygnets off Fisherman's Bank, but the Shelduck young may have reduced to seven, assuming there aren't two broods that is. On Wick, out of a murmuration of 146 Starling, 145 were juveniles, so no doubt a Sparrowhawk's delight.

May 25th

Mistle Thrush on the Barn Field - Chris Chapleo

Stanpit received quite a bit of attention today and it seems as if the recent presence of small waders has now largely moved on. For example, maximum counts from there, combined with some bits-and-pieces from Mudeford Quay, come to just 10 Dunlin, a single Sanderling, 5 Ringed Plover and 2 Turnstone, while a Little Ringed Plover that settled in Mother Siller's Channel for around 5-minutes was a little less expected. Also about the marsh, a Grey Plover, 2 Whimbrel, singles of Bar-tailed Godwit and Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Curlew, up to 7 Lapwing and the brood of 11 Shelduck all intact in Stanpit Creek. This is turning into an excellent season for variety of breeding species, with the Mistle Thrush again in the Barn Field; but also a couple of Bullfinch on Wick, a male communicating with an unseen bird, presumably a juvenile, although the actual nest may be just off-site. Early on, a good few hours were put in at Hengistbury, where 8 Swift, a Fulmar, 2 Common Tern and a passing Sanderling were logged.

May 24th

If you thought yesterday was bad!
With the wind continuing unabated, the only report comes from Fisherman's Bank, where singles of Whimbrel, Redshank and Curlew could be seen, while 150 or so small waders were out in Stanpit Bight, but too far for certain ID.

Additional news: a young Peregrine harangued one of its parents for food over Wick and a Lapwing was in display by the Wooden Bridge.

May 23rd

In a blasting south-westerly, which peaked at around force 5 this afternoon, and under some leaden skies, a 3.5 hour seawatch from the Beach Huts this morning was reasonably interesting. A total of 5 Great Northern Diver, at least two of them in breeding plumage and three of them in a flock over the harbour, passed westward, as did a Red-throated Diver, 13 Common Tern and 13 Fulmar. Meanwhile, a couple of Kittiwake and 8 Common Scoter headed into The Solent, of the 14 milling auks four were Guillemot and two were Razorbill, a Hobby made a low pass around the end of the head and 6 Swift travelled into the wind. Also on Hengistbury, the groynes held 2 Turnstone and 8 Sanderling, a Spotted Flycatcher was by Whitethroat Corner and a Mistle Thrush sang half-heartedly in the Nursery. At Stanpit, there were around 150 small waders and 3 Whimbrel.

May 22nd

Four-spotted Chaser on the Lily Pond at Hengistbury - Chris Chapleo

It's even tougher than yesterday to make the day sound exciting, and a strong south-westerly wind that picked up shortly after dawn didn't help matters. At Stanpit, there were 12 Sanderling mixed in with 200 or so Dunlin, while 21 Black-tailed Godwit, all looking like wandering youngsters, were the first for several days. Also a Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit knocking about the marsh, a further Whimbrel at sea and 7 Turnstone on the sandspit groynes. The sea was given a modicum of attention, but could muster just: a Red-throated Diver and 2 Guillemot west, 6 aimless Fulmar and 5 Common Scoter east.

May 21st

The morning low tide at Stanpit once again attracted over 300 small waders, including the year's first Curlew Sandpiper, along with: 27 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel, 11 Ringed Plover, 270 Dunlin and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit. Also seen from Stanpit, as well as the top of Hengistbury, the first-summer Little Gull milling around the HHC mudbar. Otherwise, however, there was next-to-nothing - just a single Spotted Flycatcher on Wick, 3 Swift over and a Peregrine attempting to flush pigeons off The Priory, plus 30+ Common Scoter and 15 Gannet at sea. Continuing the recent breeding birds update, a Sparrowhawk was seen carrying food to its nest site, so suggesting young may have now hatched.

Omission: at least 7 Mediterranean Gull passed over westward.

May 20th

In persistent conditions to the previous several days, other than local breeding interest that we'll come to later, plus a Spotted Flycatcher over Wick, then it's the passing waders that provide the most interest. Today's totals, expressed as Stanpit + sandspit, came to: Sanderling 14 + 40 settled and 25 east, 10 + 4 Ringed Plover, 240 Dunlin, a Whimbrel and the 4 Bar-tailed Godwit. After yesterday's conjecture about the reason behind the reappearance of Mediterranean Gull, of which there were 4 today, we have received a message from the Portsmouth area explaining that some nests have in fact been washed away during this week's spring tides. Back to Christchurch and some good news about Shelduck, which did not produce any young for the last two seasons despite previously being an ever-present for living memory. At 7:00 this morning, a family of 11 very young ducklings were guided out from Speller's Point by their parents, who rather foolishly took them down the main navigation channel towards Blackberry Point, the main point of gathering for the several hundred young, large gulls that are now a feature of Stanpit summers. A few hours later, a brood of 8-9 was seen from Fisherman's Bank, presumably the same one, but sadly already suffering a few casualties. Also in Stanpit Creek, a pair of Pied Wagtail has a nest of young, seemingly in the bow of boat SU170! To finish up the breeding news, the first fledgling Reed Bunting were out on Wick. After a short absence, the drake Tufted Duck is again on the scene in the company of drake Mallard, while 14 Common Scoter passed east at sea.

May 19th

This adult Kittiwake made for a bizarre sight as it flew up and down the river at Stanpit
- Chris Chapleo
...while the Fisherman's Bank Mute Swan have hatched and it looks like eight in all
- Mike Andrews

On a really fine day, but with a continuing south-westerly wind, an adult Kittiwake somehow made it into the harbour, and toured up and down the river at Stanpit. Also, at least 10 Mediterranean Gull over the marsh throughout the day - this after a blank couple of weeks, so they may be unfortunate birds already wandering from nearby colonies. Meanwhile, ones or twos of Curlew, Redshank and Lapwing are still being constantly seen, when one might expect none during the month of May. Truly migrant waders continue to pass through, however, with 46 Sanderling off Mudeford Quay early on and a further 33 inside the harbour. These, as well as: 32 Ringed Plover, but just a single after the high tide, 320 Dunlin, reducing by half by the late afternoon and 4 Whimbrel, while the 4 lingering Bar-tailed Godwit were still around. On Wick, the Cuckoo is still in full voice and 6 Gadwall were a mild oddity at Stanpit.

May 18th

The current, early morning low tide is tempting good numbers of waders to drop in to Stanpit to take a snack, before most of them move off north-east as the water floods in. The morning maximum was 22 Sanderling, 45 Ringed Plover, 350 Dunlin and 3 Whimbrel, while a further 31 Sanderling and 17 Dunlin passed at sea, and a Common Sandpiper was on the sandspit. In contrast, by the late afternoon, the Dunlin had halved and the Ringed Plover came to no more than half a dozen. Meanwhile, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, all looking like first-summer birds, have probably been around for a little time now. Also inside the harbour, a first-summer Little Gull and 4 Mediterranean Gull passed over. The morning drizzle 'forced' a seawatch from the Beach Huts, but it wasn't entirely a wasted exercise, as: a Manx Shearwater, 5 Arctic Tern, a Black-throated Diver, 2 Great Northern Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, 31 Common Scoter, a Razorbill and 6 Fulmar were logged; as well as 5 Bottlenose Dolphin. A Spotted Flycatcher was also on Hengistbury, from where singles of Peregrine and Hobby were recorded, a Yellow Wagtail passed over Stanpit and the Cuckoo sings on Wick.

May 17th

The highlight of the day was CHOG's third ever Gull-billed Tern, which was watched for 20-minutes this morning resting with Sandwich Tern on the small island between South Marsh and Blackberry Point. However, as the rising tide engulfed the mud, the birds moved off and despite a couple of hours searching all likely spots the rarity could not be re-found. The previous two records were in 1959 and 1993, with the former actually being one of the 'lost records' - i.e. discarded by Hants when the boundaries changed in 1974, but never taken up by Dorset - meaning the event is not officially archived with any county. Another interesting tern, in terms of age, was a first-summer Sandwich Tern inside the harbour with 3-4 adults, while 6 or so Common Tern were also milling around. The morning low water saw up to 400 Dunlin on-site, but these declined a little as the waters rose. Meanwhile, other peak wader counts came to 22 Whimbrel, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Sanderling and 7 Ringed Plover. The Cuckoo continues to delight around Wick, a couple of Swift arrived and a male Peregrine tried its luck with the waders at Stanpit this evening.

Omission: a pair of Mediterranean Gull passed over Stanpit.

May 16th

Stock Dove in its nest - Darren Hughes

Mudeford Quay again held some tern interest briefly this morning - not least, what was presumably the same Roseate Tern as yesterday, as well as an Arctic Tern that was sat on a buoy for a short while, 2 Little Tern and 6 Common Tern. Also, 2 Yellow Wagtail north over there. In a brisk south-westerly, other migrant passerines were hard to come by, however, so it's straight to the waders at Stanpit, where a Greenshank, 5 Bar-tailed Godwit, 5 Whimbrel and 150 Dunlin were present. On Hengistbury, a Cuckoo was calling by the Nursery and 4 Common Tern went over.

May 15th

Roseate Tern on a buoy in The Run early this morning - Alan Hayden

Nearly all of the regular Sunday crew were surveying various parts of the Lower Avon Valley this morning, so the harbour was somewhat neglected. Nonetheless, a Roseate Tern was located lingering in The Run, where it remained for around 45-minutes before heading off along the sandspit. Also from Mudeford Quay, around 50 Dunlin and 2 Knot east.

Spotted Flycatcher by the Long Field - Alan Hayden
Marsh Harrier over the Beach Huts - Alan Hayden
...and listening to, but hoping for a glimpse of, Golden Oriole - Alan Hayden

May 14th

Rather surprisingly, both Golden Oriole were still on site today: firstly a bird was heard for around 30 minutes just after 9:00 from the top of the head down in the Batters, before the sounds packed up completely; then at 1:00, activity was relocated in the Nursery and resulted in a single second glimpse of the two birds over a two-and-a-half hour period! During the early part of the morning, at least 17 Spotted Flycatcher were recorded moving off Hengistbury and along Wick, where a male Bullfinch also spent some time by the HHC before that too moved off over the Wooden Bridge. A Marsh Harrier arrived in-off the sea and headed up the river mid-morning, while other bits-and-pieces involved 10 each of Swift and House Martin, a Hobby and a Peregrine. There were no visits to Stanpit, but from Hengistbury the Dunlin numbers looked similar to yesterday and 4 Bar-tailed Godwit could be picked out.

May 13th

Water Shrew - Alan Hayden
Although only a record shot, this photo represents the first sighting of the species on Hengistbury since 1990. The recently cleared lily ponds on the Batters are also proving attractive to dragonflies, with only the fourth area record of Downy Emerald present today

Even though the general numbers are low, odd bits of quality keep appearing. This morning, two Golden Oriole, an adult male and a younger bird of the same sex, were very vocal about the Batters just west of the Nursery, with both making short flights across the canopy on occasion. Unfortunately, after 15-20 minutes of activity, they shut up and could not be relocated, despite some serious effort. Also on Hengistbury, 3, but possibly 6, Spotted Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler, while a Cuckoo again sang on Wick and 5 Common Tern left over the Barn Field. Dunlin numbers almost doubled overnight, with 245 the maximum count, as well as other day peaks of 3 Knot, a Grey Plover, 9 Sanderling, a Turnstone, 6 Whimbrel and 85 Black-tailed Godwit. Also newly on site was a pair of Shoveler that spent all day resting around Stanpit Bight. The last day or so has seen the first Stonechat broods leave the nest, as well as a fledgling Mistle Thrush in the Wood and some rather cute families of Long-tailed Tit.

May 12th

A much clearer night saw fewer settled birds after dawn, but the second Red-rumped Swallow of the year did pass low over the No Dogs Field on Wick just before 7:30 - this, one of a trickle of Swallow that went through during the morning, plus a handful of House Martin incoming. A couple of Spotted Flycatcher were logged, one in Wick Ditch, the other in the Barred Warbler Bush, while 2 Yellow Wagtail went over Stanpit and a new Lesser Whitethroat was in Smithy's Field. There were, encouragingly, probably two Cuckoo singing about the area, with one crossing from Stanpit to Hengistbury when it was viciously set upon by a flock of 25 or so Black-tailed Godwit! Elsewhere, but mainly around Stanpit Bight, there was a half decent selection of the commoner migrant waders, namely: 4 Sanderling, a Common Sandpiper, 5 Turnstone, 2 Grey Plover, 10 Whimbrel, 6 Bar-tailed Godwit, 30 Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and 151 Dunlin, as well as 3 Curlew, a Redshank, the pair of Gadwall and the first-summer Common Gull.

May 11th

Cormorant breakfasting in The Run this morning - Alan Crockard

A cloudy night and some early drizzle went some way to reversing yesterday's rather gloomy prediction. A total of 9 Spotted Flycatcher were seen on Hengistbury, 5 moving off and 4 settled, as well as 4 Redstart, one of them a young male in sub-song, 2 Garden Warbler, 2 Willow Warbler and 7 Wheatear, plus a Siskin, a Tree Pipit and 2 Swift over. Meanwhile, a Cuckoo was in full voice on Wick Fields and the first-summer Little Gull was inside the harbour. There was also a good movement of waders and the like over the Barn Field and at sea, including: a high-flying Arctic Skua that was going west, while a flock of 4 adult Little Gull, 48 Common Tern, a Golden Plover, 19 Grey Plover, 11 Turnstone, 2 Sanderling, 21 Whimbrel, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit and 112 Dunlin all headed in the more expected easterly direction. Various numbers of settled Black-tailed Godwit were reported, so it's hard to know just how many were involved, but a minimum of 70 seems reasonable; also 3 Bar-tailed Godwit, 10 Whimbrel, 3 Grey Plover and 50 Dunlin. Moving away from birds, a Roe Deer was seen near the Driving Range on Wick.

Additional news: revised wader counts have just come in for Stanpit and comprise: a Little Stint, a Sanderling, 92 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plver and 62 Dunlin, all present early on.

May 10th

Despite it being only the tenth of the month, there is already talk of the spring migration being over. On or over Wick today, there were 4 new Willow Warbler, 2 Wheatear, 4 House Martin and a Swift, but that's it for the entire area in terms of the more expected incoming birds. A first-summer Little Gull hawking the river provided a modicum of interest, however, as did a breeding-plumaged Golden Plover on Stanpit, from where a Cuckoo could be heard. Stanpit Bight held the most Black-tailed Godwit for at least a week, 37 in all, but 29 of these picked up and headed purposefully north-west - presumably, next stop Iceland! Also about the marsh, 9 Whimbrel, 18 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Grey Plover, a Ringed Plover, 24 Dunlin, 4 Curlew and 4 Redshank. A Water Rail in the Purewell Stream suggest breeding in the area, while there seem to be four Mute Swan nests on-site after a couple of years of none. To conclude, a pair of Greylag Goose noisily toured early on and the suspect pair of Gadwall were again in Barn Bight.

May 9th

Although the sea was again quiet in terms of passage birds, it did offer a Manx Shearwater and a Roseate Tern, the latter fishing just off the Beach Huts in the company of a Common Gull, a Sandwich Tern and 2 Black-headed Gull. Otherwise, the water yielded just 11 auk sp., a Guillemot, a Razorbill and 6 Whimbrel, while a near adult Little Gull could be seen off Blackberry Point from Hengistbury and 17 Common Tern left the harbour over the Barn Field. Meanwhile, the only obvious migrant passerines were a Spotted Flycatcher on Wick and a Wheatear on Priory Marsh, but the first fledgling Starling of the season, at least 20, boosted the number of birds around. On Stanpit, the waders comprised a Knot, 3 Turnstone, 12 Whimbrel, 4 Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 24 Dunlin, 2 Redshank and 5 Curlew.

May 8th

Despite the strong southerly wind continuing from yesterday, the sea was woefully quiet this morning, with just 2 Black-throated Diver, a Red-throated Diver and 25 Dunlin east, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit west, 2 Fulmar and four each of lingering Common Tern and Common Scoter. On Wick, the best was a Turtle Dove whizzing around in the company of a Collared Dove, as well as a Whinchat, a couple of newly-arrived Reed Warbler and a Hobby over. The only visit to Stanpit was during the afternoon high tide, when 10 Whimbrel, a Grey Plover, 7 Bar-tailed Godwit, a Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Lapwing, 3 Curlew, the pair of Gadwall and the drake Wigeon were roosting on the saltmarsh.

Additional news: a late morning visit to Stanpit came up with a Common Sandpiper, 23 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Ringed Plover and 30 Dunlin.

May 7th

Turnstone on the inner shore of the sandspit - Alan Hayden

A mixed day of varying rain and wind saw the interest split mainly between terns and waders. From the Beach Huts, a Roseate Tern passed by, as did 174 Common Tern, while a Wood Sandpiper headed north over Stanpit. Meanwhile, waders settled inside the harbour, mostly from Stanpit but also a few on the Hengistbury side included: a Greenshank, 2 Knot, 9 Grey Plover, 7 Turnstone, 16 Whimbrel, 20 Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Black-tailed Godwit, a Ringed Plover and 39 Dunlin. The sea also saw 2 Little Tern off Mudeford Quay (also one inside the harbour), 10 Common Scoter, 4 Fulmar, 20 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel and 5 auk sp. east, as well as 4 Kittiwake west. The reset of the news involves: an unseasonable Kingfisher by the Wooden Bridge, the pair of Gadwall in Barn Bight and the Wigeon at Stanpit.

May 6th

Linnet - Alan Hayden
Knot - Alan Hayden

After a good week or so, the waders at Stanpit seem to be reducing in numbers, although a Little Ringed Plover was seen in flight over Crouch Hill. Nearby, in and around Stanpit Bight, there were: a Common Sandpiper, 3 Knot, 4 Grey Plover a Sanderling, 15 Whimbrel, 41 Bar-tailed Godwit, 14 Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Ringed Plover and 43 Dunlin. Also still hanging around the marsh are 5 Curlew, a species that is normally absent during the month of May. There was a hint of some passerine arrival, with a Grasshopper Warbler and 3 Garden Warbler in Smithy's Field, 3 Yellow Wagtail over and a Reed Warbler in Wick Fields - also a Hobby over Stanpit. The sea was given a go, but came up with just 10 Common Tern and a Red-throated Diver east, plus 4 Fulmar, with another of these being seen a few hundred metres inland over the Wooden Bridge. Finally, oddities that look set to summer included the young Common Gull, a similarly aged Mediterranean Gull and 2 Gadwall, but only one Wigeon, a drake, could be seen today.

May 5th

Lesser Whitethroat on territory - Alan Hayden

It was much quieter all round today with the highlights being 2 Garganey that flew around the harbour before heading off and a Turtle Dove which moved north over Wick Fields. Other arrivals included 2 Yellow Wagtail and singles of Whinchat, Wheatear and Garden Warbler, the latter singing in Wick Ditch. The sea yielded just 38 Common Tern, 4 Sanderling and a Little Tern east plus both Kittiwake and Fulmar west. A Common Sandpiper was in Barn Bight while wader totals from the other side of the harbour were 85 Dunlin, 51 Bar-tailed Godwit, 17 Whimbrel, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Grey Plover, 4 Ringed Plover, the 2 summer-plumaged Knot and a Greenshank. A first-summer Mediterranean Gull was on Stanpit this afternoon together with 2 Little Tern and the 3 Wigeon, while earlier 2 Shoveler were seen.

May 4th

Common Tern - Alan Hayden

A Temminck's Stint, in the company of 2 summer-plumaged Knot, was in Mother Siller's Channel briefly this morning before all three birds flew towards East Marsh. The Knot were still present this evening but there was no further sign of the Temminck's Stint. The wind moved from the east to south-east during the morning so once again the sea received most of the coverage. Highlights were 7 Pomarine Skua and 2 Arctic Skua, the first Black Tern of the year and 6 Arctic Tern. The supporting cast included easily the best count of Common Tern of the spring with 153, also 63 Whimbrel, 47 Bar-tailed Godwit, 46 Common Scoter, 31 Swift, 26 Gannet, 15 Sanderling, 9 Knot, 9 Common Gull, 5 Mediterranean Gull, 4 Grey Plover and one each of Black-throated Diver, Great Northern Diver, Kittiwake and Great Crested Grebe. All these birds moved east, while 2 Hobby arrived and headed north. A Whinchat, 2 Wheatear and a Spotted Flycatcher were the only grounded migrants of note with 7 Yellow Wagtail and 2 Tree Pipit passing overhead. A further 2 Mediterranean Gull, both second calendar year birds, were on Stanpit this afternoon, also 2 Little Tern present. Wader totals were 94 Bar-tailed Godwit, 45 Dunlin, 12 Whimbrel, 12 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Grey Plover, 3 Greenshank, 3 Turnstone, 3 Sanderling, 3 Knot, 2 Ringed Plover and 1 Common Sandpiper.

May 3rd

A closer view of the Wryneck - Alan Hayden

The Wryneck was still present today, re-found around 6pm in its favoured spot in the Bobolink Field. Earlier the sea was watched for four hours initially from the Gulley and then the Coastguards but it was much quieter than yesterday possibly due to a slight shift in the wind which was more easterly today. The best were probably 2 Arctic Skua, also 20 Whimbrel, 30 Swift and a Brent Goose all moving east with around 25 Gannet lingering and 12 Common Scoter on the sea. Migrants included just 30 Swallow, 3 Wheatear and a single House Martin. On Stanpit the wader selection included a Spotted Redshank plus 90 Bar-tailed Godwit, 80 Dunlin, 12 Whimbrel, 10 Grey Plover, 5 Greenshank and a Turnstone while the 3 Wigeon also remain.

May 2nd

Wryneck on Wick Fields - Alan Hayden Merlin - Alan Hayden
... and Whimbrel , both passing the Gully - Alan Hayden

The headline for the post was going to be the wader migration at sea, plus the relatively large number of birds stopping to feed and rest inside the harbour. However, a Wryneck found during the afternoon in the north-west corner of the Bobolink Field, and remaining until 6:00 at least, stole the limelight a little. Anyhow, back to the waders and firstly those around Stanpit Bight throughout the day, with the peak counts being: 98 Bar-tailed Godwit, 25 Whimbrel, 12 Greenshank, 9 Turnstone, 6 Grey Plover, an Avocet, a Knot, 12 Black-tailed Godwit and 60 Dunlin. Meanwhile, a 6-hour morning watch from the Gully saw an easterly movement over the water of: 149 Bar-tailed Godwit, 63 Whimbrel, 31 Dunlin, 30 Sanderling, 12 Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover and a Greenshank. The sea was not without its moments in terms of other stuff, not least a female Merlin east, as well as: a Manx Shearwater and a Great Skua west; 2 Arctic Skua, one east, one west; and 2 Black-throated Diver, 2 Red-throated Diver, 10 Little Tern, 3 Arctic Tern and 37 Common Tern, all east. Also moving up-channel: a flock of 3 Little Egret, ditto 3 Brent Goose, a pair of Eider, 2 Red-breasted Merganser, 2 Tufted Duck and 15 Shelduck, while a Pochard in over the Barn Field and over Stanpit could have been in the same category. There were plenty of Common Scoter, but as is often the case it's difficult to work out what's really going on; for example, in addition to the settled dozen or so, 39 went east and 10 went west - all flock sizes were different, so all may have been different birds. To wrap up offshore, there were 6 Fulmar and a Guillemot, while 3 Yellow Wagtail, 3 House Martin, 10 Swift and 13 Swallow were all seen to arrive. The only other news for the day involves a Whinchat and 3 Wheatear.

May 1st

A series of texts, phone calls and emails over the last 24-hours between Christchurch and the seawatchers at Milford-on-sea suggested there was a good chance of connecting with Pomarine Skua from Hengistbury. Consequently, a number of DIY tasks were put on-hold and a couple of observers spent 6-hours at the Gully from 7:15 onwards - they were not to be disappointed. At 10:30, a couple of 'Poms' headed purposefully west into Poole Bay; but even better was to come at midday, when a flock of 10 birds appeared from the east and eventually settled on the water directly out from the Long Groyne. Unfortunately, they were then too distant to pick out in the chop and must have drifted off with the tide, as a further hour's wait failed to relocate them. Other highlights included: a Short-eared Owl and a Hobby arriving; 2 Arctic Skua, one of them harassing Sandwich Tern just a short distance offshore; an Arctic Tern and 3 Little Tern east; a Black-throated Diver west, a Great Northern Diver, east then west, and two Red-throated Diver east. Also: 38 Whimbrel, 8 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Dunlin, 2 Shoveler, 11 Common Scoter and 5 Razorbill east; a Kittwake west; and a Mediterranean Gull, 16 Common Scoter and 6 Fulmar lingering. Elsewhere, a Little Ringed Plover came in over the HHC and the passerines on Hengistbury and Wick were represented by 3 settled Yellow Wagtail, 4 Whinchat and 5 Wheatear.

Additional news: a couple more Hobby and 2 House Martin passed over the harbour, while a late afternoon seawatch saw 7 Common Tern, 26 Whimbrel and 20 Bar-tailed Godwit go by the Beach Huts.

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